© Kirk Starratt - kingscountynews.ca
Archeologist Aaron Taylor and 10-year-old Nolan Smith search for artifacts in soil removed from the midden at Prescott House
By Kirk Starratt
Although they didn’t get very deep into the midden, an archeological dig at Prescott House last month still uncovered several hundred artifacts.
Archeologist Aaron Taylor of Sheffield Mills, who facilitated the project, said the dig was slower than a normal excavation because of the amount of instruction that was required. Members of the public were able to participate in the dig.
Items unearthed included early 19th century ceramics, a bone-handled knife, handmade nails and iron tools. A midden is essentially the garbage heap or pit where people would have discarded items no longer of use in the days before municipal waste collection.
Nolan Smith, 10, of Sheffield Mills found some brick and glass. This was the first time he had taken part in an archeological dig, but said he’d like to do more.
“I thought it would be kind of interesting to come and find some stuff I’ve never seen,” Smith said.
Craig Daniels of Windsor, a Grade 5 teacher at Uniacke District School, discovered a large bone, which likely belonged to a horse. He said it was a bit of a thrill to make the discovery.
“I’ve always been interested in archeology and I thought I’d do this to see what it’s like to be an archeologist,” Daniels said.
Daniels said he’s glad the Nova Scotia Museum put the pilot project together. It’s important to understand our past, he said, and by inviting the public to take part in such a dig, it exposes more people to history. He added that he’d be interested in taking his students on such a dig.
Archeologist Natalie Jess of Wolfville helped facilitate the excavation. She said there are certain things you get used to finding, such as nails and glass, but there are other items that you always get excited over. Jess loves finding pieces of Rhenish, a type of stoneware with a blue and purple glaze, dating from between 1627 and 1725.
“When you find it, it’s exciting,” she said, pointing out that pieces of Rhenish have been discovered during recent digs at Grand Pré.
Taylor said he thinks the public dig was a great success and hopes it will become a long-term project. About 30 people participated over the four days.
“What I enjoyed was seeing the wide range in age of the participants,” Taylor said. “We had children as young as 10 digging beside folks as old as 80.”